Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Three Films Make A Post: Some Things Shouldn't Be Disturbed…

No Such Thing (2001): Hal Hartley's movies are always problematic. On one hand, the man has a fantastic, personal sense of visual poetry and the ability to let actors shine doing non-naturalistic, yet deeply human feeling acting (just look at how fantastic, glowing Sarah Polley is here and compare with her performance in Splice!). On the other hand, he is a purveyor of the sort of clichéd and hackneyed culture (and worse media) critique certain art house directors (see also the insufferable Wim Wenders) confuse with depth. In No Such Things both sides of Hartley collide with a vengeance, but the director's better nature wins out for long enough stretches that I don't regret having watched the film. Still, thinking about what Hartley could accomplish if he'd apply his talents to the exploration of more interesting ideas than he usually does makes me a little bit sad.


Salt (2010): This is an ultra slick, competent and theoretically extremely entertaining big costly Hollywood spy action movie that has a plot as ridiculously unbelievable as any Bond movie with Roger Moore (just more complicated), although it's trying its hardest to pretend it's as clever and down to earth as a Bourne movie (and what does it say about Hollywood spy movies that the Bourne movies are as down to earth as they come?).

So far, so fun. Unfortunately, Salt is also a morally bankrupt hymn to the idea that the end justifies the means (quite unlike the Bourne movies who have a moral backbone) as probably befits a film coming from a country with government sanctioned torture. Which sort of ruins the fun. Completely.


Shutter Island (2010): Following the line of mediocre films Martin Scorsese had churned out this century, I had mostly given up on the director. Turns out that I was like one of those guys hating on Bob Dylan during the 80s - not wrong, but way too pessimistic.

Shutter Island is quite brilliant - a film that takes a preposterous plot (especially once the final reveal comes around) and makes it work through a peculiar combination of a sense of history (public and personal) and Scorsese's own private brand of operatic artificiality. It should be ridiculous, and yet it's pretty damn great.


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